Bangkok shrine bombing trial resumes after long delays

Bangkok shrine bombing trial resumes after long delays

A craftsman repairs the bomb-damaged chin of the Lord Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine in August 2015. (File photo)
A craftsman repairs the bomb-damaged chin of the Lord Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine in August 2015. (File photo)

The trial of two Uighur men accused of carrying out a deadly bombing in Bangkok in 2015 resumed on Tuesday after years of delay attributed to problems finding interpreters and the coronavirus pandemic.

Yusufu Mieraili and Bilal Mohammed allegedly planted a bomb in a Hindu shrine in Bangkok's commercial heart in August 2015 that killed 20 people, mostly Chinese tourists.

The bombing at the Erawan Shrine in Pathumwan came after the then-ruling junta forcibly repatriated 109 Uighur to China, where rights activists said the Muslim minority faced cultural and religious repression.

The timing prompted speculation the attack was motivated by revenge. The country had become a key transit hub for Uighur fleeing China, as the kingdom’s military leaders grew closer to Beijing.

The trial was delayed several times as the court struggled to find a suitable interpreter. It finally resumed on Tuesday in Bangkok.

Defence counsel Schoochart Kanpai told reporters that police forensic officers who inspected the crime scene at the Erawan Shrine and an apartment where the two accused lived were due to give evidence on Tuesday.

The Uighur are a Turkic group in China's westernmost province, Xinjiang.

China has been accused of grave human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the Uighur dating back to at least the 1990s, with the United States branding Beijing's treatment of the mostly Muslim minority a "genocide".

A damning UN report released in August detailed violations including torture and forced labour and "large-scale" arbitrary detention in what Beijing calls vocational training centres.


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